This is the third installment of short reflections preparing for Saturday's Worldwide Vigil for all Nascent Human Life.
Today, I want to turn to early Christian tradition.
It is one of the great ironies of this debate that those who in so many other areas view the early Church as golden age to which we must return, pointedly ignore the fact that one of the defining features of those early Christians was their strong stance against contraception, abortion and infanticide.
So, for all those who try and twist the Church Fathers to their cause, some early examples of the constant teaching of the Church.
The early Christians and life
Consider for example, the Letter to Diognetus, dated c125 AD:
"For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines.
But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking, literally, “paradoxical”, method of life.
They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.
They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring [literally: cast off cast away fœtuses.”]...
Other early Church documents such as Didache (c100), The Epistle of Barnabas (c 130) and the Apocalypse of Peter (c100) also strongly condemned and outlawed abortion.